Asthma May Be Overdiagnosed, Study
It's estimated that about 300 million people worldwide, and about 25 million people in the U.S., have asthma—a chronic respiratory condition that affects the airways. But a new Canadian study published in JAMA suggests asthma may be misdiagnosed in more than a third of these people.
Researchers examined 613 adults who had been diagnosed with asthma within the past five years. They used diagnostic tools such as home peak flow meters, spirometry, and serial bronchial challenge tests to evaluate asthma symptoms and attempt to confirm the diagnoses. According to researchers, asthma was ruled out in 203 out of the 613 participants—33.1 percent of study participants. Of these, 12 people had a cardiorespiratory disorder other than asthma and 28 percent had no respiratory condition—with most having allergies or heartburn.
In the year following the study, the 203 people who did not have asthma gradually discontinued taking their asthma medication, under medical supervision. More than 90 percent of these individuals were able to stop treatment safely. According to researchers, the overdiagnosis of asthma may be due to misdiagnoses or to the fact that, in some cases, asthma clears up spontaneously.
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